Polling on for 3rd Phase of UP Polls: CM Akhilesh, BSP Chief Mayawati cast their vote

Polling is underway in 69 constituencies spread across 12 districts in the third phase in Uttar Pradesh. Polling that began at 7 AM has been witnessing a good number of voters.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the smooth functioning of the polling process. Borders of all the 12 districts have been put under surveillance and heavy deployment of forces for round the clock checking is made.

As per the Election Commission, more than 2.4 crore people are expected to vote on Sunday to decide between 826 candidates.

Lucknow West and Central have 17 candidates each. There will be 25,603 polling booths in this phase. Tight security arrangements have also been made. For free and fair polling, the Election Commission has appointed 4,609 micro-observers and 61 general observers and deployed over 83,000 personnel of central para-military forces.

Prominent among those whose prestige is at stake are Nitin Agarwal, son of SP leader Naresh Agarwal, BSP turncoat Brijesh Pathak from Lucknow (Central) on BJP ticket and Congress turncoat Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Lucknow Cantt, who is pitted against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna.

Moderate queues were seen outside polling booths in Lucknow as voting began at 7 am. Rita Bhaguna Joshi was among the early voters. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BSP Supremo Mayawati have casted their vote, members of the Yadav family are also expected to cast their votes in their home village Saifai. CM Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Ram Gopal have also voted.

SP leader Shivpal too is a key figure in this round. He is contesting from Jaswant Nagar seat. Congress leader PL Punia’s son Tanuj Punia is trying his luck from Jaidpur seat in Barabanki. In 2012 Assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the turnout in these areas was 59.96 per cent and 58.43 per cent respectively. The next four phases of polling will be held on February 23, 27 and on March 4 and 8. Counting of votes will take place on March 11.

There are 2 crore and 41 Lakhs voters, including over 1 crore 10 lakhs women and 1028 third gender who will decide the political fate of 826 candidates including 105 women in the fray.

Voters in UP recorded a 64.2 and 66 per-cent turnout in the first and second phase respectively.